In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a snippet:
I was shocked to learn your steady Asian boyfriend of several years had left you.
Even though we’ve never met in person, I feel like you’re an old friend. Maybe that’s because we’ve both been in interracial relationships with Asian men. Or because I came to know you through what you shared with me over the years. Or even because you’ve supported me when I needed it most.
So I don’t think it’s enough to just say, “I’m sorry.” Sorry is such a small word, and small comfort. Honestly, I would rather give you hugs, just holding you the way friends have for me when I’ve weathered breakups.
It’s always a pleasant surprise when your friend shares a link with you on social media — and it turns out to be an article you wrote a few years back.
That happened to me just the other day. There it was in my social media messenging app — a picture of Jun and me under the title, Why Won’t Western Women Date Chinese Men? It was the first piece the Huffington Post ever published from me. Cool to see it’s still getting read, even after two years.
“Whenever I arrive at the airport in America, the first thing I notice is our men, how handsome and how tall they are,” one of my white female colleagues mentioned over lunch. “I’ll just stare at them for hours, as if I was Chinese and had never seen a foreign man before in my life.”
At least that woman wasn’t as blunt as another colleague, who used to bicycle with me through the streets of Zhengzhou. As we stopped on the corner of a side street and watched the mostly-male populous pedaling past us through the intersection, she grimaced.
“Chinese men don’t really seem that attractive.”
“How can you say that?” I asked her.
“I don’t know… they just aren’t.” She sounded too casual for a woman who just dismissed the entire male population in China.
How could these women just write off all Chinese men as undateable? The question haunted me as I pondered my crush on Tian. But it wouldn’t be the last time I would find myself up against these ideas. As I continued to date the locals in China and eventually married a fellow from Hangzhou, I would come to realize that most expat women in China agreed with my Zhengzhou colleagues. And sometimes, their dislike was just shocking. A European woman I worked with in 2001 famously told me that, while she found all Chinese men completely repulsive, she considered Chinese children so adorable.
Buying gifts for someone else never ranked as one of my top 10 most fun things to do. Not even back in America, where I grew up.
But after moving to China and marrying a Chinese local, it became even more of a headache. After all, China is a country that takes gift giving seriously, complete with its own gift-giving customs and etiquette. Now I would have to navigate all of these cultural rules to buy for my family in China, the people I’d be seeing every single year.
Cue the panic attack.
Fortunately, after years of experience in buying gifts for my Chinese family, I’ve learned it’s actually a lot easier than I thought. And sometimes, it can even be fun – if you know what to buy.
There’s so much we miss about a country if we only picture it through the eyes of the media.
Ron Coulter, my husband’s lawyer, reminded me of the value that comes from writing about what it’s like to live with – and even sleep with – the so-called “enemy” country.
When we share stories of our daily lives across unlikely borders, we offer a chance to go beyond the headlines. To understand that there’s more to these countries than what the reporters say. To connect with the people and realize that, despite the cultural and linguistic differences, we have a lot in common.
Maybe we really can change the world, one blog post (about a so-called “enemy” country) at a time.
That’s what a good friend wrote to me a few months ago after I confided in her. I had mentioned the enormous stress in my life. The bouts of sadness. The loneliness I was feeling.
Talking to a counselor or psychologist is the kind of advice I used to give all the time. For most of my life, I was a big believer in the power of counselors and psychologists to guide us through life’s challenges. After all, it was a psychologist in a university counseling center who helped me cope with the loss of my mother at the tender age of 17.
But when I read my friend’s suggestion to talk to a counselor, anger coursed through my veins. The last person I would ever talk to would be a psychologist. Just thinking of psychologists made me want to scream.
That’s because I’ve lost my trust in psychologists and the psychology profession, thanks to Idaho State University.
Titled “Why Won’t Western Women Date Chinese Men?”, it’s my personal exploration of a topic close to my own heart. After reading a few too many misleading articles on the subject this year, I felt it was time for me to speak out.
…when I think about the global reach of this problem, and the fact that it’s even tough for Western-born Chinese to score a date outside of their own race, I know deep down that cultural differences — as much as they matter in relationships — cannot alone account for why few Western women date Chinese men. When I think about how a racist caricature from Hollywood gets tossed around among expats as a symbol of Chinese men — and Westerners from around the world harbor consistently negative views of Chinese men — I realize there’s a dark side to this whole discussion.
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